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  1. Colorado Ballet did four performances this weekend and has three more next weekend of its final show of the season at the Caulkins Opera House. For ballet lovers, it's by far the best program of the year. I went to all four to see the different casts. As I suspect few on this site will be in Denver next weekend to see the final three, let me say a few things about the ballets chosen. Yuri Possokhov's Firebird was a great programming choice. I was not crazy about his Optimistic Tragedy for San Francisco Ballet last month, which was too often gimmicky, but this was accessible for lots of audiences with plenty of interesting choreography, especially for the leads. He uses the shorter Firebird Suite and the story was clear and easy to understand throughout. This was apparently one of his first pieces after retiring as a dancer, with an early version in 2004 for Oregon and then in 2007 for San Francisco Ballet. I like the minimalist sets, mostly colorful drops, with a few pieces of hanging scenery. It wasn't as overwrought and pretentious as Ratmansky's version a few years ago. And it had several fun touches and surprise elements, which work with an audience not as familiar with classical ballet as others. The middle piece on the program was Kylian's Petite Mort. I have seen this programmed for a lot of companies in recent years. I first saw it at PNB, paired with Six Dances, which also uses Mozart, Mozart-ian costumes, and the black dresses with a life of their own. It's a work-out for the dancers and they seem to love it, but Mort just seems to stop when the music is over, without any sort of finale or closure that made sense. Colorado showed it with two completely different casts, 12 dancers each, so almost all of the professional dancers got to perform this one. Others have pointed out that Kylian is expensive, so perhaps that's why nobody else performs the pair of works together, which is a shame. (This company has 26 dancers on contract, plus five apprentices, and a large studio company.) The program opened with Serenade. It amazes me that I never get bored with this, no matter how many times I see it. I always marvel at the genius of the choreography -- moving large groups of dancers around stage in interesting and surprising ways, e.g. But I also always think of what it must have been like for Balanchine in 1934 with the odd assortment of dancers he had to work with. I don't mean to suggest that this is an "easy" ballet for anybody, but so much is accomplished with the visual tableau of poses, positions, motifs, etc. that are not as technically demanding as other ballets, at least for the corps. I must note that Maria Mosina, who is retiring at the end of this season, joined the Serenade cast for the Sunday matinee as Russian Girl - of course! What a treat, especially with the symbolism of the ties to Russia of both dancer and choreographer. (She also did Firebird Friday and Saturday nights, partnered by Alexei Tyukov.) At the Vail Dance Festival this summer, the Colorado corps will do Serenade with principals from NYCB. As I have said before, regional companies like Colorado perform such an important role in showing live ballet (with live orchestra) in cities where the big companies like ABT and NYCB never tour. They provide paid professional employment to a wonderful group of dancers. And the orchestra with 46 musicians (!) is always superb.
  2. The 2017-18 season was just posted:
  3. More details just made it onto their web site:
  4. Others have said it before me, but it's so true: Symphony in C is bread and water for ballet lovers -- never ceases to amaze and recharge. One thing I noticed about that 1973 recording: the men in plain black costumes against the very dark background. Even today, the men are in all black with some sparklies on the bodice. They almost fade into the background, reinforcing the feel of male dancers as merely "porteurs" in the old sense, even though they do have some nice bits in this choreography. Balanchine's ideal of "ballet is woman" is much in evidence here. And if people haven't yet read it, Nancy Goldner's analysis of this ballet in More Balanchine Variations will show you things you hadn't noticed before. E.g., in the fourth movement, the corps encircling the principals and soloists has some amazing moves - like a simple yet complex series of tendus in different positions.
  5. Single tickets go on sale Sunday, March 26, according to ABT's Facebook posting. I haven't seen that announced anywhere else.
  6. No, this choreography is by Derek Deane: This version was produced by ENB: Yosvani Ramos, a new principal at Colorado, apparently performed Romeo with ENB, judging from his Instagram. ENB's was in the round. Colorado's version was at the Opera House. What I remember (and it's been quite a few years) was a very effective minimalist set that worked just fine for me. Perhaps Jones made the transition to a traditional stage. Here's Yosvani's Instagram - he did this with ENB in 2005:
  7. Several years ago (fall 2010?) I saw PNB do two Kylian ballets back-to-back -- Petite Mort with Six Dances. I thought it was brilliant - both to Mozart, overlapping feel. I see many companies (including Colorado Ballet later this month) doing Petite Mort alone, but not with Six Dances. I don't know why - perhaps too expensive or too long. It's 17 + 13 minutes, so that might be the issue. But I'd love to see the pair again. Here's video of Six Dances: PS: PNB also does a fine Glass Pieces, which I think was on the same program. Can't get enough of that one!
  8. The March performances of the Tharp and Tudor are at University of Denver's Newman Center - Gates Hall, seating 977. It's a lovely theater, but no orchestra pit! So they use recorded music and sometimes a small ensemble on the stage. (All other performances are at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, with a full orchestra.
  9. Colorado Ballet just announced their 2017-18 season. The press release is here: The most interesting thing for serious balletomanes is Tudor's Pillars of Fire next March, funded by a grant from NEA. In the past, Amanda McKerrow and John Gardner have staged Tudor ballets for this company, so I hope they do again. As the press release notes, the only other American company to perform this work is ABT. I saw their Romeo and Juliet when they did it about six years ago and it's a lovely production, with the Prokofiev score. I haven't seen Dracula, but they did several performances over Halloween weekend a few years ago and I understand it was a big hit, sold out. If Royal Ballet and San Francisco Ballet can do Frankenstein, I guess Dracula isn't so far-removed. Dracula October 6 - 15, 2017* Ellie Caulkins Opera House Colorado Ballet opens the season with crowd-favorite Dracula with choreography by Michael Pink and music by Philip Feeney, performed live by the Colorado Ballet Orchestra. Count Dracula, the King of the Undead torments the living in Transylvania and London during his quest to steal his beloved Mina from her husband Jonathan Harker. Based on Bram Stoker’s Gothic horror, Dracula features seductive vampires, frightening mental patients and the king of the undead himself, Count Dracula. Performance Dates Friday, October 6, 2017 – 7:30pm Saturday, October 7, 2017 – 2pm Saturday, October 7, 2017 – 7:30pm Sunday, October 8, 2017 – 2pm Thursday, October 12, 2017 - 7:30pm Friday, October 13, 2017 – 7:30pm Saturday, October 14, 2017 – 7:30pm Sunday, October 15, 2017 – 2pm Domenico Luciano and Viacheslav Buchkovskiy by Mike Watson The Nutcracker November 25 - December 24, 2017* Ellie Caulkins Opera House The 57th annual production of The Nutcracker features timeless choreography paired with Tchaikovsky’s extraordinary arrangement performed live by the Colorado Ballet Orchestra. In addition to being the largest production of The Nutcracker in the state, Colorado Ballet’s 2016 production was named the best-loved Nutcracker in the U.S. in the 10th Annual Goldstar National Nutcracker Award contest. Morgan Buchanan by Mike Watson Performance Dates Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017 – 1pm Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017 – 6:30pm Sunday, Dec. 26, 2017 – 1pm Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017 – 1pm Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017 – 1pm Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017 – 6:30pm Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017 – 7:30pm Friday, Dec. 8, 2017 – 7:30pm Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017 – 1pm Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017 – 6:30pm Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017 – 1pm Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017 – 6:30pm Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017 – 7:30pm Friday, Dec. 15, 2017 – 7:30pm Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017 – 1pm Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017 – 6:30pm Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017 – 1pm Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017 – 6:30pm Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017 – 6:30pm Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017 – 6:30pm Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017 – 6:30pm Friday, Dec. 22, 2017 – 1pm Friday, Dec. 22, 2017 – 6:30pm Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017 – 1pm Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017 – 6:30pm Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017 – 1pm Romeo and Juliet February 16 - 25, 2018* Ellie Caulkins Opera House In the spring, Colorado Ballet will present the Shakespearean love story Romeo and Juliet. Star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet fall in love despite their families’ longstanding feud in Shakespeare’s most famous romantic tragedy.The ballet features choreography by Derek Deane and music by Sergei Prokofiev, performed by the Colorado Ballet Orchestra. Prokofiev’s music serves as a melodic substitute for Shakespeare's poetry and Jones' staging of the ballet focuses on the characters’ relationships. Performance Dates Friday, Feb. 16, 2018 – 7:30pm Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018 – 2pm Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018 – 7:30pm Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018 – 2pm Friday, Feb. 23, 2018 – 7:30pm Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018 – 2pm Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018 – 7:30pm Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018 – 2pm Sharon Wehner Ballet Director's Choice March 30 - April 1, 2018* June Swaner Concert Hall at the Newman Center for the Performing Arts Colorado Ballet will close out its season with a collection of ballets. Ballet Director’s Choice includes Pillar of Fire by choreographer Antony Tudor and music by Arnold Schoenberg, a Brief Fling by choreographer Twyla Tharp with music by Michel Colombier and Percy Grainger, and a third work to be announced. Performance Dates Friday, Mar. 30, 2018 – 7:30pm Saturday, Mar. 31, 2018 – 2pm Saturday, Mar. 31, 2018 – 7:30pm Sunday, Apr. 1, 2018 – 2pm Artists of Colorado Ballet by Sue Daniels Photography
  10. I made a quick trip to San Francisco to see Programs 1 and 2 this weekend. A few general observations: As I've noted before, I love that this company schedules overlapping programs so out-of-towners can see a lot in a few days. And I was stunned that both programs were sold out (or nearly so). Is there any other city in the US that could sell two mixed bills of contemporary work for an opera house seating 3126? In February, on week nights? This is one very loyal fan/subscriber base, for sure. I was mainly interested in seeing Justin Peck's In the Countenance of Kings, which premiered last season and was reportedly a big hit. I loved it (and the Sufjan Stevens score). It's very much in the style of his several earlier pieces for NYCB - amazingly imaginative movement of groups in shapes, patterns, like moving sculptures. Individual movement ideas that always seem fresh, surprising, innovative, never gimmicky. I wondered how many in this audience had seen several other pieces by Peck, and this company might want to acquire another one in the coming years. I didn't get the story, but that didn't matter. Bubenicek's new piece, Fragile Vessels, was a puzzle. Set to Rachmaninoff's second piano concerto, the music overwhelmed the movement, especially for anyone well-versed in classical music. It was almost like he loved the music and just cooked up some ideas to fill it. The choreography on its own was imaginative and mostly interesting, with a lot of complicated partnering for the ensemble, but it felt forced to fit the music. E.g., the second movement of the music is poignant, so how about a woman torn between two lovers. Well, okay. The music was part of the problem with Tomasson's Haffner Symphony. This is such a familiar and much-loved Mozart symphony that the choreography just seems to skate over it. Others have observed that Tomasson is not a choreographic genius. This was workmanlike to me, a frothy program opener that relies mainly on an obvious classical vocabulary and hitting the beat. But sometimes I would catch glimpses of distinctive Balanchine ideas; e.g., the principal woman supported by two women hinted of T&V. Nice to see Ratmansky's Seven Sonatas, with the pianist on stage for the Scarlatti. The balance between music and movement is so perfect here, it heightened the disconnected feel of other pieces on the program. Possokhov's Optimistic Tragedy was strange, although it did provide a lot of opportunities for the male corps to show off, which isn't all bad. Aaron Robison and Yuan Yuan Tan (the only female in the work) had some truly bizarre partnering - contortionist, gimmicky, risky. Both were strong enough to make it work, but it was painful to watch. I was fascinated with the projections of black-and-white photographs and other images of ships at sea across the back. This seems to be a trend -- Baryshnikov's Letter to a Man used photo projections of soldiers dying outside Nijinsky's window during the war. Wheeldon's American in Paris used photo projections of Paris. The Ballade of Baby Doe (an opera shown at Central City last year, but reportedly produced around the country) uses historic photo projections of 19th century Colorado. Much cheaper than building traditional sets and a nice bit of stagecraft in all of them. I don't know when this took hold but I expect we'll see more of it. And finally, Pas/Parts 2016. Yuk. At a pre-performance interview with a soloist, we learned that Forsythe almost completely re-choreographed this from the original version for Paris. This dancer raved that he was brilliant at identifying each dancer's strengths and making the most of them. But I found that sound track of special effect noises, at high volume, truly unbearable and I skipped a second performance. Someone here noted that he seems to randomly juxtapose movement and sound. Cunningham, of course, explored this territory extensively. But I did occasionally glimpse a movement pattern or beat that sort of matched the noise pattern. But others will have to explore this one in the future - I simply could not bear to sit through that cacophony of intolerable noise ever again.
  11. I can't find the schedule for next year on their Web site. Is it posted somewhere?
  12. I'm very glad to see a respected critic suggest that Copeland find a substitute for the fouettes and cite Plesitskaya as a model. This isn't a new problem, for sure.
  13. It's always sad to see professional dancers lose their jobs (no matter the reason), but many of the regional companies in the US do a lot with 26 dancers. They sometimes fill out crowds and corps with advanced students from area schools, but that's fine. Still, this is ominous - France has a robust Ministry of Culture (or used to...) and it's unfortunate they couldn't help out.
  14. the live stream...
  15. It sounds like they had a few unclaimed house seats that they released at the last minute. Always worth checking!